We nurture empathic and respectful interactions between community members of all ages and backgrounds. Staff members like and respect each other, and consistently model that for the children. Students, parents, and staff members alike see these relationships as a critical foundation for building a caring community of learners.
In a parent survey in June 2005, parents wrote, "BP teachers are dedicated and caring." "The teachers and support staff are amazing" ; "My son's teacher has been outstanding in helping him mature in his social skills." : In fifth grade exit interviews, a consistent student comment was "The teachers really care, and the aides and yard duties do, too." And in a school-wide student survey in May 2005, 98% of students agreed that they "like" or "love" going to our school (62% said they "love it").
Teachers have high expectations of their students, themselves, and each other. Every member of the community is a learner, seeking continuous improvement. Within classrooms, teachers differentiate instruction to challenge and support all children. We use multi-level assignments, open-ended projects, individualized materials, "menus" of activities, and small group work (such as leveled reading groups) to teach the PAUSD curriculum in a variety of ways within the same classroom.
In the 2005 surveys, 93% of parents who responded were satisfied or very satisfied with their children's academic experiences in reading and writing; 95% were satisfied or very satisfied in mathematics; and 95% agreed or strongly agreed that "My child is engaged and challenged in learning at school." Similarly, 97% of students said they like learning new things in school some or all of the time. In fifth grade exit interviews, students noted, "Teachers won't let us do the least amount" and "Our teacher picks something that is just out of our reach and says, 'You can do it.'"
As adults, we teach and model the acceptance and celebration of the many ways we are different from each other, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, language, religion, age, gender, economic class, sexual orientation, abilities, and physical characteristics. For example, different abilities and learning styles are acknowledged and each person's contribution is valued. One parent wrote "It seems like just about everyone at Barron Park has embraced the children in room 4. It's a wonderful thing for the Special Day Class students." (June 2005)
We focus on being a community through learning about and valuing the cultures of our families and staff. We celebrate and enjoy our richly diverse community! On the May 2005 school-wide survey, students were asked, "Do you feel that people at school accept people who are different from them? (such as color of skin, language spoken, physical abilities, likes and dislikes)?" 59% of the students responded "Yes, almost everyone," and an additional 35% responded that "Some people are, and some people are not." Whatever groups a child may belong to, we seek to nurture the development of awareness and self-confidence and the ability to interact in positive ways with people from diverse backgrounds.
Teachers collaborate on curriculum and instruction, and work together to ensure the success of all students, not just the ones in their own classes. Students of all ages help "buddies" in younger classes and younger students in multi-age constellation groups. Each child votes for student body officers, and each class elects representatives to Student Council. Upper grade students help as peer tutors, library helpers, and lunch servers. All children are taught conflict resolution skills ("Talk It Out") so they can begin to learn to resolve disagreements on their own. In the fifth grade exit interviews, the students came up with many examples of specific ways they have been able to make a difference at Barron Park, from reading to kindergarten students in the morning to helping in the room 15 Special Day Class to helping develop new school-wide playground rules. One student added, "And we're giving advice, like now [in the interviews]."
Parents make a difference in classrooms, across the school, and through leadership in PTA and on the School Site Council. One parent wrote, "It's great helping the teacher in the classroom. I feel it helps my child and the other children and especially the teacher." (June 2005) Parents and staff members work as partners to develop our "School Improvement Plan" each year and to figure out how best to implement it.